Friday, February 8, 2013

Myanmar: Violence and Intimidation Leave Tens of Thousands Without Medical Care

In June 2012, deadly communal clashes in Rakhine State triggered an official state of emergency. Many people were displaced and had their homes burned down. Rakhine is Myanmar’s second-poorest state and has historically received less investment in health care than other areas of the country. A deadly communal clashes broke out in Myanmar's Rakhine state eight months ago. Tens of thousands of people are still unable to access urgently needed medical care. Due to the clashes and amidst deep hostility, communities were divided and separated. A lot of people remain unable to return home and are instead living in rice fields or other crowded strips of land. They ended up living in makeshift camps lacking sufficient shelter, water, sanitation, food, and health care. Lack of access to clean water is the likely cause of the high rates of diarrhea. Although there is plenty of clean water available, most displaced people are denied access to it.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides independent, impartial assistance. MSF calls on government authorities and community leaders to ensure that all people of Rakhine can live without fear of violence, abuse, and harassment. Camp residents have many critical medical needs from skin infections, worms, chronic coughing and diarrhea are the most common ailments that MSF teams have encountered. MSF has found alarming numbers of severe acutely malnourished children in several camps. Pregnant women are also denied access to medical care. In disregard of efforts by MSF medical teams, they also encountered threats and hostility due to bias by some people of Rakhine community.

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